Despite his best efforts to introduce himself to us extremely early, Albie never made it to meet his great-Gramp.
It was around the 31-week mark when I made the two-and-a-half-hour journey back to Swindon for my Gramp’s funeral. It was a risk, given just three weeks earlier we had been warned to expect Albie’s arrival at any time.
We lived day by day in between weekly update scans – with each appointment offering the latest information to consultants who would decide whether his condition had deteriorated to the point an emergency C-section was his best chance.
The funeral fell on a scan day and we took the calculated risk for me to attend, given the previous few weeks had reported a relatively settled picture. It was right for me to say goodbye on our behalf, tinged with sadness we would never be able to introduce Gramp to our baby son. The anxious waiting by the phone throughout the day however did make me think I was like wheeler-dealer Harry Redknapp waiting for news of my latest football transfer deadline day deal to reach me!
In a speech I wrote to be delivered by the reverend, I acknowledged Gramp’s rightful status as a ‘great’ one.
That speech also took mourners through a little tour of Gramp’s personality. It fondly recalled how he had gained a reputation as being a bit of an inventor, usually coming up with complicated solutions to solve life’s little problems.
Rather than return the ride-on lawnmower he once bought because it didn’t fit down the pathway, for example, he instead embarked on a major project to build its own special wooden outhouse.
But the speech also noted his grand triumph: the Poole Family Golf Trophy.
My Uncle, Cousin and I all took up golf around the same time. To encourage family gatherings, given my Uncle and family lived in Cambridge, my Nan and Gramp hatched a plan to create a little trophy to play for when we met for a game.
It became an annual Christmas staple. Some time between Boxing Day and the new year, we would all do battle for a little piece of wood with a rock-hard Top Flite fastened to a tee.
It was a simple memento but the sentiment and the pride of winning it made for a fierce competition – and it wouldn’t have been possible without a bit of ingenuity from Gramp.
Now, just my Uncle and I compete for the coveted trophy as the last-remaining family golfers still attempting to hack our golf balls round the course.
Sunday was the first time we had a chance to compete for the trophy since Gramp passed away – and coincidentally it was nearly a year to the day since the tragic day.
Given the occasion, it was fitting that it was the first time Albie had a taste of trophy day, as well as his first foray on the green.
This picture is so special for those reasons and it’s lovely to see his beaming smile, clutching the ball.
The anniversary match was a little one-sided in my favour but the result wasn’t what mattered. It was a fitting tribute to a special relative – and a hope that the next generation will keep the family tradition going for years to come.